Survey of Indigenous Water Management and Coping Mechanisms in Africa: Implications for Knowledge and Technology Policy

"Despite the impressive water resource endowments, Africa lags behind other continents in per caput access to safe water, volume of irrigation water, and food security and tops the league of poor countries. Some of the answers to this lamentable situation could be found in the rising population which in year 2000 stood at 784.4 million, but projected to rise to about 1.1 billion in 2015 (UNHabitat, 2003); massive degradation of the natural resource base (water, soils and vegetation), increasing rainfall variability, recurrent droughts, and low level of science and technological development. This paper attempts to unravel this complex and bewildering situation by resting on the premise that, before colonization, people in African kingdoms and empires, had deep traditional knowledge of science and technology which was employed in many facets of life like food production, soil and water management, textiles, craft, iron and stone works and jewelry, etc. In spite of this enviable past, why has the continent been unable to unlock her wealth, especially in the realm of sustainable water resources development and management? What were the indigenous water management and coping mechanisms? What factors account for the stunted growth of indigenous water management techniques? How can these challenges be met adequately using the instrumentality of new knowledge to integrate western science and technology with traditional African science and technology."